HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW
Book: Pony Farm Mystery
Author: Pamela Kavanagh
Cover Illustrator: Neil Reid
Publisher: Pony, 2006
Related website: www.pony.us (publisher)
Language level: 1 (nothing objectionable)
Reading level: Ages 8-12
Rating: 4 stars (GOOD)
Reviewed by Wayne S. Walker
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Kavanagh, Pamela. Pony Farm Mystery (published in 2005 by Pony, a division of Stabenfeldt A/S Inc., 457 N. Main St., Danbury, CT 06881). Hannah Wesley, who narrates the story, and her twin sister Emily, both almost fifteen, are spending the summer with their Grandma on Cedar Hill Farm while their parents are busy with their dad’s new job and Grandma is recovering from surgery. Cedar Hill Farm had once been a premier training stable when the girls’ grandfather Jon Wesley was alive, but he was accused in a horse-doping scandal, lost his license, and died shortly after that when Hannah was quite small, leaving a cloud of doubt over the farm. Grandma stayed on and kept a few horses, but hasn’t been able to revive the business. The new neighbor woman, Kathy Montague, has been coming to clean and cook, and her eighteen-year-old son Dale has been working on the farm.
Believing that her grandpa was unjustly treated, Hannah decides to go through his old diaries in the hopes of finding some information that would clear his name and maybe even get the farm back into operation again. She likes to read in a hidden garden where there’s a statue of a boy riding a pony, but while reading, she has eerie flashbacks into her grandfather’s life. Meanwhile, strange things begin happening at Cedar Hill. The farm’s donkey keeps getting out, in spite of all precautions, and going to the house of a former Wesley employee named Ruskin. Some of the horses on the farm get a mysterious illness that the vet can’t seem to do anything about. There’s evidence of a prowler. Will Hannah ever find out what went wrong for her grandfather? Or might she become a victim herself?
I will have to say that this book has a very interesting and suspenseful plot. There is almost nothing objectionable. The word “heck” is used once. A few references occur to Hannah’s feelings for her former boyfriend Duane, from whom she is now glad to be away, and for Dale, but these are not emphasized. Some sibling rivalry between Hannah and Emily arises, but the two do care deeply for each other and their differences are resolved. A little Gothic-style “mysticism” is found in Hannah’s relation to the Pony Boy statue, but if one understands that this is a fictional story, there should be no problem with this. I suspect that it would appeal most to teenage girls who like horses, but anyone who likes a good mystery with a few “supernatural” overtones will enjoy it.